Helping disabled pilots learn to fly has become a mission for German LSA producer, Flight Design. In conjunction with Able Flight and Purdue University‘s Department of Aviation Technology, Flight Design and its Colorado dealer Peak Aviation supplied a CTLS with an installed Flight Design hand control system to allow students to earn their Sport Pilot certificate. Able Flight pays the cost of the aircraft for students.
Training of four students is nearing completion, consuming about five weeks. Charles Stites, executive director of Able Flight, explained, “We had such success with our joint flight training program at Purdue in 2010 that the university asked us to send more students this year. That meant more airplanes and we were pleased to add a Flight Design CT, adding to the specially adapted Sky Arrow 600 that was used last year. So we have two students and two instructors per plane.”
“The Able Flight students at Purdue take part in an intensive training experience that often means flying twice a day, while spending the rest of their time studying,” he continued. “They also have a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and support each other as a team. It’s really the best of all worlds. They live in a university dorm, train with university instructors at Purdue’s own airport, and for five weeks they are immersed in aviation at a school in the flying business for 100 years.”
Hand controls in Peak Aviation’s CTLS will allow two students who do not use wheelchairs to train full time in the CTLS. Veteran Jermaine Strachan is a a two-time recipient of the Purple Heart, and Korel Cudmore is hearing impaired. Cudmore requires a side-by-side training aircraft for communicating with her instructor. Stites added, “We anticipate their sport pilot training to be complete by the end of June, and their wings will be awarded during AirVenture at Oshkosh.”
Al Mathews of Peak Aviation Center said, “Frank Bormann of Flight Design Technik provided excellent support throughout the installation effort, regardless of the time in Germany.” Peak Aviation Center is a Flight Design Pilot Center located in Colorado Springs, and its Pilot Center CTLS has been delivered to Purdue University’s Able Flight program to train disabled pilots. “Our flight instructors found that the controls worked well and especially appreciated the hand brake on the stick when taxiing on a gusty day,” added Mathews. The CTLS brake is normally positioned in the center console where its operation requires the same hand as used on the special rudder control. Peak Aviation’s mechanic installed the hand controls in the CTLS. The task involved installing a hand-control rudder lever and a shortened throttle lever as well as moving a new hand brake control to the joystick.
When the CTLS returns to Peak Aviation, Stites said, “Of course, it is our hope that more intensive use of the hand control-equipped CTLS will take place at Peak’s Colorado Springs facility, and Purdue’s first experience in working with students and the CTLS will allow us to evaluate that opportunity.”
National Flight Design USA sales director John Gilmore noted the hand control system — a set of parts and instruction for retrofitting to an in-service aircraft — finished testing and entered production earlier this year. The complete system retails for approximately $4,000.
“We are impressed with Able Flight and director Charles Stites and we want to support the organization’s success at getting disabled persons into Light-Sport Aircraft,” stated Flight Design CEO Matthias Betsch. “We also know Purdue has a strong aviation program in an environment of learning. In cooperation with hand control developer Flight Design Technik we are pleased to help provide training to Able Flight, Purdue, and to customers who need such equipment.”
Flight Design USA is the U.S. importer of the Flight Design CT and MC series of Light-Sport Aircraft from Germany. Delivering more than 330 Special Light-Sport Aircraft to customers through its network of distributors and dealers, Flight Design USA has led the field since the first LSA approval in 2005. The carbon fiber CT series of aircraft are the best-selling LSA in America by a wide margin augmented by the addition of the all-metal MC series in 2010. Globally, more than 1,700 Flight Design aircraft are in service around the globe.